Shocking new estimate of Gaza killer toll exceeds 186,000 rekindles war crimes allegations — Global Issues
  • Tarif Dean (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

According to the article, “Counting the Dead in Gaza: Difficult but Essential,” indirect deaths have ranged from three to 15 times higher than direct deaths in recent conflicts.

“Applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths for every direct death to the 37,396 reported deaths, it is not unreasonable to estimate that the death toll from the current conflict in Gaza could reach 186,000, or even more,” The Lancet said.

The disproportionate killings in Gaza are in retaliation for Hamas’ killing of 1,200 people inside Israel on October 7.

“Since the beginning of this war, Israel’s military operations in Gaza have consistently violated the international law principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution,” Dr Simon Adams, president and CEO of the Centre for Victims of Torture, the largest international organisation dedicated to the treatment of torture victims and to advocating for the abolition of torture worldwide, told IPS.

As a result, civilians in the Gaza Strip are suffering immensely, he said, noting that it is impossible to know the exact death toll, with many bodies still lying under rubble or literally torn apart as Israel continues to bomb homes, hospitals and even a UN school housing displaced and vulnerable civilians.

“The Israeli government’s collective punishment of Palestinians is a war crime. Their actions make it impossible to provide an accurate death toll, but I have more faith in the Lancet’s scientific evidence than any IDF press release,” Dr Adams said.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), told IPS that conflict-related mortality estimates are the standard way of calculating the true number of deaths from war, and unfortunately, they are all too accurate.

“If Israel continues its indiscriminate bombing and starvation of the Palestinian people, the actual death toll is expected to exceed 200,000, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who will be injured and traumatized for decades to come,” she asserted.

Nihal Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said:

“It is no secret that the actual death toll of Israel’s massacre in Gaza is much higher than previously reported. This new data from a renowned researcher provides further evidence that genocide is occurring in Gaza and that international action is needed to end the suffering and bring justice to the Palestinian people,” he noted. This realistic death toll is supported by new reports that Israeli forces do not adhere to any rules of engagement required by international law, leaving them free to kill civilians and destroy homes at will. “The Biden administration, which is enabling genocide, ethnic cleansing, and forced starvation, must act to stop this growing horror,” he said. The Lancet figures estimate that about 8% of Gaza’s population was killed, which would be the equivalent of about 26 million Americans, or nearly the entire population of Texas. “President Biden and his administration have supplied Israel with weapons to carry out this horrific massacre and have obstructed Israeli accountability,” Awad said.

Asked about the findings, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “To my knowledge, we were not involved in the investigation. I think it’s conceivable that the figures are an undercount, given that the rubble has not yet been cleared. But whatever figures we are talking about, they are horrific, staggering and difficult to even imagine.”

According to The Lancet, the population of the Gaza Strip in 2022 is estimated to be 2,375,259, which represents 7.9% of the Strip’s total population.

A February 7, 2024 report estimated that without a ceasefire, there would be between 58,260 deaths (if there was no outbreak or escalation of tensions) and 85,750 deaths (if both occurred) by August 6, 2024, when the direct death toll was 28,000, the Lancet, which has very high standards for research papers, said.

According to The Lancet, armed conflict has indirect health impacts beyond the direct toll of violence: even if the conflict were to end soon, many people will continue to die indirectly from reproductive, communicable and non-communicable diseases in the coming months and years.

The death toll is expected to be high given the intensity of the conflict; the destruction of medical infrastructure; severe shortages of food, water and shelter; the inability of residents to flee to safety; and the loss of funding to UNRWA, one of the few humanitarian organizations still operating in the Gaza Strip.

An immediate and urgent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is essential, along with measures to allow for the distribution of medicines, food, clean water and other resources to meet basic human needs.

At the same time, the scale and nature of suffering in this conflict must be documented. Documenting the true scale is essential to ensure historical accountability and acknowledge the full costs of war. It is also a legal requirement.

Provisional measures established by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January 2024 require Israel to “take effective measures to prevent the destruction of evidence relevant to alleged acts within the scope of the Genocide Convention and to ensure the preservation of evidence.”

IPS United Nations Secretariat Report

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© Inter Press Services (2024) — All rights reservedSource: Inter Press Service


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